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Sidharth Monga in Johannesburg
December 18, 2013
After scoring a hundred in his first Test innings in South Africa, a knock that reminded Allan Donald of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli displayed a sense of occasion befitting an elder statesman, and some anger at host broadcasters. Both motivate him, and should not be overly frowned upon. It was at Wanderers that Kohli was hit by a short ball in the ribcage - he was early on the pull - a clip that was shown during the third ODI with a caption that said "Virat Kotli - softened up." It was by all accounts a harmless piece of television to accompany a commentary discussion about getting hit on the body and then coming back, but it obviously rubbed India the wrong way.
At Wanderers again, Kohli pulled Dale Steyn for two fours, and Jacques Kallis for one. The third of these pulls was sumptuous, but not as spicy as Kohli's description of it. "Apparently I was pretty soft after the first ODI," Kohli said. "I always had it in mind that we were all going to get short stuff unless you attack them. So rather get out playing your shots than fishing outside the off stump. I was prepared and I was watching the ball closely. Later on they started bowling at the fifth-sixth [stump], so I don't know where that bodyline bowling went. It is all about dictating terms when you bat. You can't always play under pressure. Let them know you are here to compete. We have shown we have learnt from mistakes, we have practised hard. We stuck to plans, and you will see us improving as we play next."
Dictating the terms remained the refrain of the Kohli press conference. "I have been waiting for this opportunity to bat up the order," Kohli said. "It's something that I badly wanted to do in Test cricket because I am so used to going in at No. 3 in ODIs. I like to be in the action early on and get in while conditions are tough and then dictate terms. I had a plan in mind that I wanted to stick to, and wasn't thinking about bowling, conditions, or the wicket. I just wanted to execute my plan."
That does sound a bit like Ricky Ponting. There was more to come, without being disrespectful or obnoxious. "I don't think they were threatening at all," Kohli said of South Africa's attack. "They are quality bowlers, but it was about respecting the conditions early on when you went in and the kind of bowling you were facing after that. You have got to get in and back yourself throughout. If they are good enough to play at this level, so are you. I had that belief, but had to respect the good balls that are being thrown at you. At the same time, you have got to be aware of cashing in on opportunities that are presented. That was key to my knock today, I latched on to whatever chances came my way, putting them away for boundaries."
The press conference wasn't all about sledging, though. Kohli displayed his mellow side too. "Funny because even during the ODIs versus Australia, I was thinking about getting a Test hundred in South Africa," he said. "That was all that was on my mind. I wasn't even focussing on those ODIs or any other games we played against West Indies. Every training session we had I was motivating myself to do something like this. Because I know how special it has been for players to get a hundred in South Africa, it was very pleasing to do so. It is probably the best I have batted in Test cricket till now. It is just about building on to it and it feels nice when you plan something and it comes together, especially against a world-class bowling attack."
Kohli expressed disappointment at not having batted through the day, but was not thinking twice about the shot he played, a wide ball that he chased, which stopped on him and lobbed for a catch to short cover.
"If you are batting at 120 and don't got for your shots, you can never go for your shots."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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